Leonard Cohen’s Tribute Show In Montreal Was Heavy

Lana Del Rey and Adam Cohen. Photo by Claude Dufresne.

Lana Del Rey and Adam Cohen. Photo by Claude Dufresne.

Last Monday the Risky Fuel team made a pilgrimage to Montreal to pay our respects to the late, great musical poet, Leonard Cohen.

Titled, Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen, the Bell Centre event organized by Leonard’s son Adam Cohen featured big names like Elvis Costello, Sting, Courtney Love and Lana Del Rey to cover Lenny’s classic songs.

Those marquee names were fine, but it was the “singer songwriters” who really shone. Damien Rice and Patrick Watson were beautifully heavy and Adam, who seems to have fully embraced the family legacy, was uncanny (and unsettling) in his renditions of his father’s songs.

Sarah wrote about all this in a live review for Consequence of Sound.

To read it go here.

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The Wallflowers Channel The Clash: ‘Sandinista’ Album Inspires Band

The Wallflowers

The Wallflowers

When The Wallflowers debuted their first single “Reboot the Mission” from sixth studio album Glad All Over there was something very familiar about it.

A rubbery disco dance rock song, “Reboot the Mission” didn’t sound much like what you’d expect an Americana foundation act like Wallflowers to sound like. Instead, it sounded like something English punk legends The Clash would do. Specifically, it sounded like a sequel to The Clash’s dance track “The Magnificent Seven” from the band’s experimental 1980 album Sandinista.

“That’s not an accident,” said Wallflowers lead singer Jakob Dylan. “It’s something we pursued, you know. It’s some of our favorite music. This is one of the best rock groups of all time.”

The song also features a meta reference to Wallflowers’ current drummer Jack Irons, who used to play in late Clash singer Joe Strummer’s solo band.

“He recorded with Joe Strummer and toured with him,” says Dylan. “That’s part of Jack’s history. That’s one of the experiences Jack has that’s really unique that very few people have and ‘drummer’ rhymes with ‘Joe Strummer,’ so you’ve got your song right there. That would be called a softball.

“It’s just, everybody knows the songs that are popular from the Clash,” he continues. “But they were a group that really succeeded in every genre and every template of music that they touched they rose to the top in. And that song, ‘The Magnificent Seven,’ you get people moving with that. That has a strong connection to rock ‘n’ roll’s beginnings, getting people to move. And that’s something we were conscious of on this record. We wanted people to move and there’s a way to get people to do that without making dance music. And that’s Chuck Berry, and that’s ‘Twist and Shout,’ and that’s Rolling Stones. That’s tradition.”

Sandinista, a 36 song, six-sided, triple album which had its 32nd anniversary earlier this week, has always been a divisive record for Clash fans. The album dove into folk, blues, rap, calypso, and even gospel. It was certainly far more than just simple punk music.

It’s also perhaps symbolic of what Wallflowers were hoping to achieve with Glad All Over. Although the level of experimentation on Dylan and company’s album isn’t so reckless as Sandinista, it’s certainly there.

“The Clash, they’re a very good reference point and an example,” says Dylan. “There really aren’t any boundaries. That group did ska, they did punk, they did reggae, they did calypso, they did funk. Those are all within the umbrella of rock ‘n’ roll bands, so there’s nothing off limits. I think a lot of bands feel they’ve got a channel they’ve got to stay in, and that’s their sound and and that’s their identity. But I think that’s totally unnecessary to put those kind of confines on themselves.”

While making Glad All Over, the Wallflowers’ first record in seven years, the band would put on albums they liked in the studio, play along to them, and then “before you know it you’ve got something.”

You can almost trace what albums the band were playing in the studio through Glad All Over‘s songs. “Misfits and Lovers” feels like Tattoo You-era Rolling Stones, “It’s a Dream” hints at Tom Petty, and there are echoes of ZZ Top, E.L.O. and other heroes of the FM dial from 30 years ago throughout.

Dylan says that cherry-picking from his record collection was exactly the point. And he’s not finished. There’s more places he wants to take the band.

“We’ve ran with a lot of things on this one and there’s endless things to go,” says Dylan. “That’s why I say the way we did this record was such a relief to know that it was simpler than I imagined. It was a lot like making our first record over 20 years ago. It felt like that again, just the enthusiasm and how simple it is, you’re just making music. It’s not that complicated. It starts with just… we wanted to start with all these songs feeling good. And songs are songs, some are going to be better than others, but we definitely chased making sure songs felt good. And it was a relief, I’d do it again tomorrow if I had the time. It was really a good experience for everybody.”

Watch The Wallflowers’ “Reboot the Mission” Video

This story was originally published December 12, 2012 on AOL Spinner.

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The Prisoner And Kosho, The Mostly Fictional Martial Art

Kosho demonstration

Kosho demonstration

In Sarah’s beloved 50 year old spy television show The Prisoner it features a mostly-made up martial art known as Kosho.

“Mostly” because there are a few real-world examples of people trying to bring to life this single-boxing-glove-wearing, grapple-on-trampolines conceptual martial art.

Sarah actually managed to track down someone who has tried to compete in “real” kosho and asked him what it was like in her first piece for Jet Li’s very good website.

To read the story go here.

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When Polaris Podcast Went To Ottawa

Polaris Podcast EP7 was live from Ottawa.

Polaris Podcast EP7 was live from Ottawa.

This past June the Polaris Music Prize went to Ottawa, Ontario to unveil the 40-album 2017 Polaris Music Prize Long List.

This also meant it brought along my baby, the Polaris Podcast.

We did a live taping where Polaris jurors Ryan Bresee (CKCU), Erin Flynn (CHUO 89.1 FM), Valerie Lessard (Le Droit) and Fateema Sayani (Ottawa Magazine) analyzed the Long List.

To find out what they said listen to the episode here:

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Duran Duran And The Power Of Teen Girls

Duran Duran's concert film Arena (An Absurd Notion).

Duran Duran’s concert film Arena (An Absurd Notion).

More than three decades ago a concert film by Duran Duran called Arena (An Absurd Notion) featured spirited young women rising up and asserting their power against a cruel older male villain.

In its way, which was perhaps more artful, fanciful and grander than the average concert doc, the film seemed to predate and predict the coming of contemporary callout culture.

Sarah wrote about the film and its prescience for A.Side.

To read the story go here.

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5 Martial Arts Films For Kid Ninjas

3 Ninjas

3 Ninjas

With the success of The Ninjago Movie from Lego, Sarah made a list of other kid-friendly martial arts movies to inspire pint-sized would-be ninjas everywhere.

To see her list head over to Asian World Of Martial Arts by going here.

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Has Lego Made The Next Great Martial Arts Movie?

The Ninjago Movie

The Ninjago Movie

This fall the folks at Lego released their latest film, The Ninjago Movie.

These fine purveyors of brick-based toys also happen to make surprisingly entertaining movies.

Because of this, Sarah theorized Lego could make the next great martial arts movie.

She explained why for Asian World Of Martial Arts.

Read her piece here.

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